Saturday, June 08, 2013

You're Safe Now

I read something extremely heart warming yesterday, and simply wanted to share.

When I was younger and watching TNG and Captain Jean-Luc Picard , commanding officer of the USS Enterprise played by Patrick Stewart I had a certain sense of looking up to the character, Picard. It was a leadership thing, how humans naturally follow a true leader. But there was also a father aspect to the character. Naturally, I explored this further, even toward a book on leadership written by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross, so imaging my surprise in reading about this yesterday, only recorded a few days earlier on May 29, coming from the actor himself regarding a topic obviously so close to him.

it may be hard to hear, but the YouTube video of the exchange may also be of interest

Right now, this very instant, someone needs to know that they can reach out and get help.

“You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now.” this is such a powerful message. I have such a feeling of compassion toward what Patrick Stewart is doing, and also for his sharing something so obviously personal.

One other point... notice how he points out that "violence is never the answer" and at the same time finds compassion for his own father, only last year he discovered that un-diagnosed PTSD may have been the cause for his own family's trouble. This reminds me to search beneath the surface regarding the issues in our lives.

Marianne Schnall exclusive interview with Patrick Stewart

Million Man Pledge

Stand! note: My son's Eagle Scout project benefitted Stand! here in Contra Costa County, CA

Vets in USA with PTSD Hotline
1-800-273-8255, press 1.

USA Hotline for Domestic Abuse

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meaningful stuff

I originally wrote this 2 months ago when I was "down"... I finally decided to publish it today.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about evil, considering the stuff that recently happened in Connecticut and continues to happen where are soldiers are stationed, and other places. I have much less trouble in explaining evil than a devout church-going person. Because I have a mathematical background, I also understand how luck plays a role in the world. Is it better to think one's way out of a mess than to pray on it? Generally, I think so.

I can also appreciate the concept of mercy though. It's written in many places (I was raised a Christian) that Jesus was a merciful man and tended to people's physical and emotional needs. No God is needed to appreciate that there are good people and bad people in the world. There is also good luck and bad luck. I believe that life is precious, and I resent it and get seriously angry when it is taken senselessly. Human beings should make life worthwhile and protect and cherish it. And I don't wish to debate the abortion issue on when life begins. That is not my point here.

We need to help our fellow man and help him in his time of need. Just be a caring human being; I guess like Jesus was. You do a good deed and provide a sturdy shoulder for someone to cry on.

Sometimes, though, life is so very hard. It seems especially so when you are younger. When you're twenty, the world is at your feet, you're full of intensity, optimism. Life has this problem though, in that sometimes it throws you lemons. You bend like the willow tree or you snap. In karate we learn especially good lessons about the willow tree, usually in one of those “force vs. force” examples. Good technique can come out of the study of a bending willow branch. It's a good life lesson, too.

Life also has this tendency to get pedantic because as you get older and waste so much time you find yourself just existing, trying to pay the bills and usually wondering what's around the next corner, if anything. Sometimes it's just more bills. Sometimes it's nothing other than perhaps depression about your current condition. Sometimes, however, it's a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

I was just looking through some old photographs that I've taken of sunrises and sunsets. It made me think, that you're haunted by your memories. You think they are just leftover things from growing up and then maybe you run into or hear from someone you used to know and perhaps they are struggling just as you are, you stop, because all of the crap isn’t just happening to you, maybe there can be a little hope that wasn't there last week, making you feel a little bit like this life is worth living, even though the downs oftentimes outweigh the ups.

The ups, that's what I live for. Like many of you, I have kids and I'm constantly getting my ups from thinking about or helping them. But when we care for people, like our kids, when they have down days, you become down as well. Perhaps these are sympathetic relationships, like the shark and the remora, which can't exist much without the shark. You have to remember to be sympathetic and solitary, taking care of yourself, as well as them. It's one of the things I'm learning.

Wil Weaton (Star Trek Next Generation and Stand by Me) wrote recently about his own depression, something lots of us struggle with, and about how things are so much better now. I am glad for him and at the same time tell my daughter and others to continue to do the "right thing" because that is where the true accolades for doing stuff correctly ultimately come from.

Had Wil had a bunch of people not pulling for him and instead sabotaging his capabilities perhaps more therapy or stronger meds might have been needed to improve his outcome. At a minimum I suspect talking to another person eventually factored into some recovery. That person had to be supportive, otherwise I don’t think we would have heard such an outcome from him.

The point being we all need one another, we all need support and caring. There is certain class of people who just really mess with my head; I just don't get their attitude; these people are the ones that have to constantly "put down" others. It's like we have two camps of people in society at war with each other. Take care of others or just think about yourself. Where does this selfishness come from? A warped upbringing from parents that don't have a clue how to raise kids? These two camps are so polarized, just to have these two positions, like I said, I just don't get it.

I'm really believe that a form of compromise is what is needed as a life lesson. We do need to take care is each other. At the same time we need to take care of ourselves. The effort to get ahead at the expense of others really needs a balancing point of view, the balance I think is charity. The charity of time helping others, not just the charity of money (ala Bill Gates). It’s not one or the other, it’s actually both. “I gave at the office, so don’t bother me at home.” Or “I give my money to United Way, I can’t really afford to volunteer for your xyz project." This attitude doesn't work for me.

So, how in the world do we teach this kind of dual charity to our kids? My daughter needs to learn better how to be self assured, to have a better sense of self, perhaps the overused word is self esteem. At the same time she acts like a magnet for all these "I'm in it for myself" people. And when the inevitable happens and she's hurt, it's like the weight of the world is upon her, then indirectly me, because I care; after all I am the Father and I truly care about her well being.

One way of thinking about it is that she should be selective in who she engages with, because friends and teachers who truly care are never in it for themselves. The only issue I have with this kind of philosophy is that my daughter cannot be insulated from these selfish people in the real world. You see, here too we have a balance between "me time" and being "out there."

Eventually she has to face the world and it is full of these people who put you down, use you or downright control you. How does she learn to deal  with that part without destroying her self esteem?

My dad learned how to swim when his dad threw him off the river bank and into the water. I learned to swim from a teacher in a pool. My son and daughter learned to swim in much the same way. But regrettably later, on the swim team, no less, she is presented not by the competitiveness of the swim meet and the opposing team... she is forced to deal with self serving, rude and selfish teammates and coaches who can't catch them in the act. It's almost as if we are collectively teaching our kids that if you can get away with it, go for it.

I find this disturbing on so many levels. Is this OK under any circumstance? Eventually don't these people realize the error of their ways? Does it balance out in the long run? Maybe you can convince yourself that this might eventually be true, maybe even in most of the cases, but what of the interactions these people have with others along the way? Consider the debris falling out of this truck of life and hitting your windshield. Perhaps this is an oversimplified way of looking at it, or is it?

Certainly the costs to repair someone’s life are considerably higher than a broken windshield. The costs are astronomical when it besets mental illness and something like Connecticut... or Hitler.

Everyone has the "god given" right to be a parent, but how, as a society, do we help that parent with instilling core values, such as caring for your fellow man, into their children.

Otherwise, we have too many narcissistic people doing bad things. Or evil things... When the government steps in to enforce societal rules, something has already been lost. A crime has to be committed before there can be punishment, but someone has already been hurt before the crime is committed.

Really, doesn't it start with the parents?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Libor, Banks, bad decisions

I've got to admit, Scott Adams still has the "stuff"... Don't you find it amazing that 3 panels in a comic strip can totally get to the root of the problem and help you identify, squarely, with Dilbert?

What is it with companies (not just banks) that continue to do this crap? Do they think that their pursuit of the almighty dollar makes their decision making a process that is not important? Is that the justification for these bad decisions? It's like these people are all 5 or 6 year olds...

... maybe it's something like what I posted back almost 7 years ago, e.g. the difference between the car salesman and the software salesman?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day

My friend, Kreg, posted about Father’s Day, so I felt compelled to do the same.

Fathers in today's world are encouraged to be more active in their children's lives than they might have been in the past. This is a good thing. For myself, other than a few times over the last 25 years, like when I was traveling, I didn’t miss too many events in my son's or daughter’s lives, whether it was baseball, school programs, swimming, scouting, dance, acting auditions, etc. Still, I know I have traveled and work too much, knowing that I’m not as engaged with them while away.

I tucked my son into bed at night almost every day (until he was old enough) and I still do this with my daughter, and she remains amazed that I do this.

Just like Kreg, we have some simple “traditions” we’ve done together, too. We’ve done the Free Comic Book Day for both kids (which started right here in 2002 at Joe Field’s Flying Colors Comics). We have been on trips (more recently, just Julia and I) such as going up to our timeshare in the mountains and having a “break” (but no breaks from shopping trips). I was just as involved with my son, prior, with Scouts, Camping, etc. Eventually, he aged out of scouting, but he became an Eagle Scout in the process, no small thing.

This year, the amazing trip has to have been to Disneyland, with Julia. It was a 4 day whirlwind of a trip (which included 1 day at Universal). I can’t say how much my feet hurt, because I’ve already forgotten J

Lots of good memories were created there. She’s even used some of them to create a little “newspaper” for her Journalism class, what to see and do there, what some issues are, and what the most beautiful parts are.

I know I am not perfect and I have said "No" too many times, because we couldn’t afford it, because I was simply tired or because I didn’t think it was something he/she should have or be involved with. I know I should be more patient. I know listening is key. I regret terribly not having done as much with my son as I’m trying to do with my daughter. I hope he doesn’t think badly about me spending more time with her compared to when he was her age (they are 10 years apart in age). And I couldn't have been a prouder papa than when I had to say a "few words" at his Boy Scout Eagle Court. I look back at my own father’s life and how he helped to raise me. He’s been my model and while he’s gone now and I’ll miss him terribly, I always remember him as a good Father. I can only hope my own children will remember me thus.

We always say, “enjoy them while you can” or “you never know when they will be gone” perhaps referring more to your kids and your parents, respectively. I can assure you, I get it, and I hope you do, too. #FathersDay 

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Space and Dreaming and 1/2 cent

This has been going around; but I do remember how I dreamed of being an astronaut. And while I didn't become one, I was greatly influenced in my career choices, for the positive, by the space program in the 60's. These youtube videos are some of the best about capturing why this was all important. Thanks to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Watch and pass it along.


p.s. He has a new book out and the sequel to Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' is coming out in 2013 on major network TV.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Plea from George

Please watch George's msg.

 We need to stop the arguing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sometimes There Won't Be Any More

My parents had the typical mid- 20th century life. They were married in 1950 and then the 5 kids arrived over the next 14 years. My dad provided the income as my mom stayed home to raise us.

I have many vivid memories about growing up, the son of a school teacher and a businessman (hardware, plumbing, refinishing). I also remember the struggling through school with money; don't get me wrong, my folks 'loaned' me money (that I never had to repay) but I also had to get part time jobs to pay for school. The only money I had in my pocket when I started college was what I earned thru the paper route and odd jobs around the area, like “rock” picking and “corn detassling”… If you don’t know what those things are, then you have a little more to learn… I didn’t have a car, I got to college by sharing a ride with someone who did have a car.

I was fortunate in that my chosen career was in a growth area, computers... Throughout the 70's and 80's I had decent opportunities but also challenges, largely by not being in the right company at the right time. Or by not starting my own company, perhaps that path was just not for me.

In the early seventies a construction worker could afford a house a new car and his wife could stay home with the kids if she so desired, just as my mom did in the 50's. My mom went back to work in the ealy 70’s. Things were already changing .